It’s the second week of Goldsmiths’ Fair, where 136 makers bring together ancient techniques with modern day technologies, from wire work to 3D printing, traditional goldsmithing to intricate engraving.
Exhibiting for the second year this year is young-silversmith Annabel Hood. Part of the Craftmasters family, Annabel creates contemporary silverware designed for the home, which uses surface decoration – including hand engraving, chasing and etching – to prompt conversations on important issues, from visual impairment to climate change.
While at the Fair, we spoke to Annabel about what she will be showing this year and the inspiration behind her latest pieces.
You are currently exhibiting at Goldsmiths’ Fair, can you tell us a little bit about what you are showing there and in particular the series of pieces that explore patterns and formations relating to rock erosion and melting glaciers?
In 2018 I camped on The Outer Hebrides, which coincided with two hurricanes off the coast of America; the 80 mile-an-hour winds soon hit Harris and I was almost blown away! I spent the rest of my holiday thinking about how extreme weather affects our environment. My research into land and glacial erosion brought me to Tom Hegen’s breathtaking aerial photography and his Two Degrees Celsius series has been the main inspiration behind my designs. The dramatic contrast of the turquoise flowing ice melt over pristine white glaciers spoke to me and hand engraving really lends itself to this; when the light catches the engraving it looks like flowing water. The centrepiece of the collection is a silver tea set which resulted from conversations I had with Glaciologist Prof. Peter Nienow over a cup of tea. In Britain having a cup of tea and putting the world to rights is something we are famous for! I like to create functional pieces that can start a conversation.
What prompted you to explore this subject through your silversmithing practice and how do you see conversations around sustainability relating to craft?
I have always focused on making pieces that are not only beautiful and functional but have a story or message. I am dyslexic, so am aware that not everybody absorbs data in the same way. I wanted to create an accessible visual catalyst to start discussion about the issues I was trying to raise on several levels: the endangering of our environment, and trying to create a circular economy where we can.
It is extremely difficult to be completely sustainable in our craft; much of our industry’s materials come from mining. As climate change is the reason for the inspiration behind my glacial flow series I decided to use 100% recycled silver and Scottish bog oak in this collection, attempting to create as small a footprint as I could. Making my practice more sustainable is a continuous evolution, but worth the effort.
Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?
That is a very difficult question! I don’t think I am ever inspired by just one thing – many different types of artists and designers influence my practice. I think one of my biggest inspirations from my time at school is Katie Paterson. Katie’s work intersects the Science / Art border regularly, which I find fascinating. I vividly remember attending a lecture in Cambridge where she was discussed her Osram Moonlight and Space projects; I was stunned by her ability to visually show ideas that were complex and powerful. Looking back at my work in the last ten years it too has revolved around such issues, from deforestation to the visually impaired. I am always astounded and inspired by what Katie creates, learning about her Future Library project reduced me to tears.
Are there any particular works at the Fair that you have found especially inspiring in terms of style or technique?
I am always drawn to pieces of work that I look at and think ‘how on earth was that done’! My favourite book is Alice in Wonderland and I think anyone who has an imagination that challenges their practice is inspirational. In past fairs I have been drawn to Nan Nan Liu’s work and how she uses wire to bring her drawings to life. Her candlesticks and menorah blew me away; it is incredible work, particularly the way in which she has soldered all of the wires together so flawlessly. This year I have found Andrew Lamb’s work very inspiring; having his stand next to mine I have been able to look very closely at his work and it is amazing how he draws down wire to 0.3mm to create incredibly intricate designs. Artists like these who challenge their drawings to become phenomenal pieces inspire me to push my own drawings harder and, in a slightly mad way, push some boundaries in my practice.
What are you looking forward to working on in the year ahead?
Having completed the tea set I feel a sense of closure on my Glacial Flow series, I have enjoyed working on it the last three years immensely. There are still a couple of pieces I would like to make in the series, including exploring how I could include enamel.
I am looking forward to next year developing my work not just in style but in theme. I am planning on taking a break somewhere quiet where I can focus on some sketchbook work that will inform the next body of work. Dorothy Hogg always reinforced the importance of drawing to my lecturer at the ECA, Susan Cross who in turn encouraged our sketchbook work. I am looking forward to developing my drawings and exploring them in new ways that will inspire my next collection. I would also like to improve my engraving and learn a couple of new styles which I can use in my work.
Annabel Hood is currently exhibiting at Stand 14 at Goldsmiths’ Fair, which runs until 9 October 2022.